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Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

Players Flying Under the Radar

July 21, 2020

Ian Book. Kyle Hamilton. Kevin Austin Jr. Ade Ogundeji. 

Everyone knows how important those names are to Notre Dame's success in 2020. The Irish return experience on both sides of the football this fall, but who are the names no one is talking about that can define the season? 

Jarrett Patterson emerged as the starter at center last year after working at left tackle his freshman season. 2020 will be his third year in the program, but more importantly, it will his second year at center. 

The California native will be the first to tell you he went through some growing pains early in the season. It's one thing to practice at a new position, but game reps and making calls are a different world on Saturday.

I'm not sure anyone would say Patterson struggled, but there is a level of consistency and growth that can be achieved in 2020. He knows what to expect and where he can improve. 

Notre Dame's short-yardage issues weren't all on Patterson, but a step forward from the 6-foot-5, 300-pounder will only help as the massive 6-foot-6, 320-pound Tommy Kraemer will be back on his right side. 

Rick Kimball/ISD
Jacob Lacey

Flipping over to the defensive side of the ball, sophomore defensive lineman Jacob Lacey got his feet wet in 2019. The Kentucky native recorded 14 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and was credited with half a sack. 

I'm not sure Mike Elston expected too much out of Lacey as a true freshman playing nose guard, but there was improvement throughout the year from the 6-foot-2, 293-pounder. 

Like most newcomers, Lacey started the season playing hesitant and a step slow. Throughout the fall, you saw him start to come into his own and become more of a disruptor on the interior of the line.

Now, Lacey doesn't need to become an All-American this year as senior Kurt Hinish is back. The next step for Lacey will be causing a little more havoc. Yes, the nose guard isn't going to make the glamourous plays, but Lacey has the skill set to make plays as he's athletic, explosive and quick. 

I think Clark Lea and Elston can turn the interior guys loose a little bit more in 2020 and allow them to shoot a few more gaps. It's an experienced front seven overall and Lacey's ability to get off the ball can be utilized more in year two. 

Staying on the defensive line, redshirt sophomore Justin Ademilola (pictured) could very well play a vital role in 2020. The 6-foot-2, 248-pounder isn't penciled in to start, but he needs to be ready for a large workload. 

Ademilola will start off backing up Ade Ogunedeji at the strong-side end. It wouldn't be shocking to see Ademilola have a role similar to what Ogundeji had in 2019. 

The New Jersey native has flashed during his career, but he's been stuck behind NFL talent at the end position. 2020 will his time to really emerge and show off his versatile skill set where he can hold up against the run and be a productive pass rusher. 

Ademilola's ability to get to the passer could also allow him to slide over to the Vyper or Drop in situational football or if there is an injury at the position. Daelin Hayes has battled through some injuries and Ademilola could help if there Irish needed him to cross-train. 

The fact Ademilola couldn't crack into the rotation speaks volumes to Elston's wealth at the defensive end position the last two seasons. Elston's developmental plan has worked wonders and Ademilolla could be next. 

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